Do you enjoy having well-maintained local trails and a fun, like-minded community to recreate with? Are you aware of how your community maintains, builds, and plans for future trail development? Mountain bike organizations led by passionate VOLUNTEERS drive local advocacy efforts and bring their communities together. They are not unlike you and me. They do not have any extra time than the average person, but they are committed to making things better for all of us.
The National Forest Service/BLM/City or State parks usually don’t have the resources to maintain trails. The responsibility mainly rests on the shoulders of volunteer trail organizations.
Most of us would rather be riding our bikes than maintaining and shaping the future of local mountain bike access. It’s easy to take your current situation for granted. Good thing some dedicated people volunteer significant time to keep things rolling. You can get involved by donating your time and money and joining your local organization. It is far better to have a voice in helping to shape things rather than just using them or complaining about them. If you have time to comment on Facebook about how a reroute or trail feature is terrible, then likely you have time to contribute positively.
Importance of Engaging with your Local Trail Advocacy
- Trails don’t maintain themselves and certainly don’t build themselves. It’s not just a catchy hashtag; it’s a thing. There are nowhere near enough people involved in many local trail advocacy groups to keep up with mother nature’s demands on our current trails.
- Communities are likely missing out on possibilities of valuable trail improvements AND expansion. Grants and donations require applications and meetings to acquire, not to mention the follow-up.
- Your input and opinion assist land managers by letting them know what we want and need as a mountain bike community. Do not assume that your local councilperson realizes that a bike park in your town will help build community, bring tourists, and improve your children’s health and well-being.
- If we aren’t engaged, other user groups may have the final say regarding trail work, new trails, and even possibly closing trails to mountain bikers. We need to be part of the conversations that shape public land use.
- Just simply supporting national or larger regional organizations, your money or donations may not entirely support your “LOCAL” trails.
How to Get Involved:
- Join your local club! Memberships are typically $25 – $50 per year and MORE than pay for themselves with member discounts and local events. When you are a member, be an active member. Go to events, participate in rides, raffles and buy their T-shirt and stickers. Being engaged helps build excellent communities.
- Attend Chapter Meetings to voice your opinion. You may have slightly different ideas about how things should happen.
- Donate time and money to your local advocates and to those advocate groups in towns you like to visit to ride. Extra cash goes a long way to purchasing new equipment, buying necessary supplies to keep the club thriving, not just surviving.
Come to trail maintenance days and volunteer your time. This is a great way to meet other advocates, learn about sustainable trail practices and get in a great workout as well. No experience is normally required and safety equipment is usually available to borrow.
- Help with the mountain bike, hiking, climbing and/or horsemen sponsored days in and around your area. Collaboration is the key to thriving communities.
- Review your clubs past meeting minutes to help understand why things are the way they are and what you can do in the future.
- Think outside the box with ideas on how to improve advocacy efforts. Just because it hasn’t happened in the past doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future. Planting seeds now for the change you want to see in the future is the way things get done.
- Volunteer your time so your efforts are best used in your local organization. From outgoing social media engagers to introverted graphic designers, it’s likely that your club needs your special talents. So why not offer?
It’s obvious where trail users are engaged with advocacy and supported by their local communities and land managers.
There are thriving and cohesive mountain bike communities in these regions pushing the envelope of what is possible. The flourishing communities are apparent, from many trails (including skills areas and pump tracks) to fun rides and socials. Bentonville, AR, Harrisonburg, VA, Moab, Pittsburg, PA, and Sedona are a few towns that come to mind first. It’s no wonder these are some of the most fun places in the country to ride bikes.
If you are looking to improve your community, it should start with you. Get involved, be positive, think outside the box, and show up. Get your friends to do the same. It will change your outlook on riding. Sitting back and waiting for things to happen in your town will not work. The future is an engaged, collaborative action with other user groups. After all, we are all in the forests for the same reasons, to enjoy nature. Whether on a bike, horseback, or hiking, we all want our experience outdoors to be fun, fulfilling, and engaged.